12 South African Cheetahs arrived in India Today from South Africa. The Historic Translocation happened as a Memorandum Of Understanding (MoU) between the two BRICS Nations for the reintroduction of big Cats to India. This is the second time of arrival of cheetahs after the previous arrival of 8 Cats from Namibia last September.
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BRICS is the acronym for Five leading developing countries: Brazil, Russia, China, India, South Africa.
Cheetah and India
India announced the extinction of the Cheetah metapopulation in 1950, after the death of the last Cheetah in India during the year of Independence, 1947. This was the only mega carnivore extinction India faced back then. A metapopulation is a group of spatially separated populations of the same species which interact at some level.
The last three Cheetahs in India were shot dead by Maharajah Ramanuj Pratap Singh Deo,King of Koriya (Chhattisgarh) in 1947.
MoU between India and South Africa
The Supreme Court waved the green flag for bringing African Cheetahs into the country at a “carefully chosen location” on an experimental basis in 2020. It was then this project to reintroduce Big Cats to India gained momentum.
”This is a historic MoU. It is a transcontinental location from wild to wild. Normally animals do move, but this has been a challenge for both countries,” quoted Dr Amit Mallick, Inspector-General of the National Tiger Conservation Authority.
“It is the amount of goodwill that is generated between two BRICS partners with a long shared history that should be considered rather. No value can be put on the public good of sharing the gene pool with other countries to ensure the survival of a species,” said Flora Mokgohloa, Deputy Director General for Biodiversity and Conservation in the South African Department of Forestry, Fishing and the Environment.
As a result of MoU, the first batch of 8 Cheetahs were ferried from Namibia to India. They were released to the Kuno National Park in Madhya Pradesh by the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his Birthday, September 17.
A Historic Arrival
The first of the dozen Cheetahs, as promised by South Africa to India for the next 10 years as per the MoU, landed in Madhya Pradesh, India today. The Indian Air Force’s C-17 Globemaster Cargo plane carrying the cheetahs landed at the Gwalior Air Force base at 10 am.
According to the Indian Wildlife Law, the animals ought to be quarantined for a month on arrival to India. The Cheetahs – 7 male and 5 Female will now be flown to Kuno National Park by Helicopters. Heavy lift helicopters, with closed doors, have been made available by the Indian Air Force for this purpose.
The release of these Cheetahs into their quarantine enclosures will be done by the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Environment Minister, Bhupender Yadav. Many other ministers from Centre to State will be present for the release.
India is on a mission to build a viable Cheetah population by signing this MoU with South Africa. With the 12 Cheetahs that arrived today, the total has increased to 20 adding the ones that arrived last year from Namibia. India is looking forward to translocating an even higher number of Cheetahs in the future as a part of MoU, and to reintroduce the wild-born Cheetahs into the Indian Ecology.